Jesus sent folks out in pairs for a reason.

If you want to go fast, Go alone, if you want to go far, Go Together! 
Dottie and I have been at it 45 years now 🙂

I remembered this blog post as I have been recovering from a minor medical procedure.  I am happy it is over and look forward to my recovery.  There is a reason Jesus sent the disciples out in two’s. Why? Because even though they could have gotten to more places alone, there is power in sharing in the things that come our way, This week I have once again experienced the added impact when two or more people work together toward a shared goal.  In this case encouraging, praying and checking in on me and Dottie to make sure we are OK.  Needless to say, Dottie has again, gone above and beyond in helping and making sure I have everything I need
We all need others in our lives. Jenni Marie in Kindred Grace shares that Life was not meant to be lived alone. She asks, “When did you last give up? Were you also alone?” When you have failed in life, were you alone?” She then makes the case of why being a mentor or having one is so important. God wants us to know the value of asking for help versus stubbornly trying to do things on our own. She writes, “As I started to value community, I was able to flourish. I reap the benefits when I ask for help.” When we are blessed to have people there for us, we are exhorted to be the one offering help to someone in need. Jenni shares it “does not need to be limited to a mentor-mentee relationship as might be traditionally expected. Although the formal and in-person relationships are beautiful, only one of my advisors has accepted and embraced the title of mentor. The rest? I doubt they even know how much I lean on them for life and business wisdom.” Even the Apostle Paul needed a Barnabus. He also mentored younger men like Timothy and Timothy would eventually become pastor of the church at Ephesus, and certainly the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy express how much Paul loved and cared for him.
Last year my daughter shared advice with me that was the impetus for me writing this blog. A friend told her to surround herself with people she could trust from every decade. I turned 70 this month (now 71) so it is harder to find folks in higher decades than me but as I thought about Katie’s comment, I realized that I am blessed to have dear friends in their upper 70’s :), 80’s, and 90’s who I can go to for advice or just follow the example they set for me and others. I also can say I have people around me from every decade below me down to my two 4 year old granddaughters. I can learn from them and I hope all in their teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s etc will be encouraged by what I say or how I live my life that helps them along the way.I encourage each of us to find people whether younger or older who we can trust to be there for us. I also hope we will look for ways to give back by finding others who would benefit from your mentoring. When you pour into their lives, like this week, they will pour into your life like they folks have done for me.  .
We are fortunate that we don’t have to long for a Savior that is represented in this Season of Advent. Jesus came so substantiate God is with you and therefore, you are never alone. Isn’t it interesting that we lean in on this promise more when we are hurting Reminds us that God’s promises are eternal, and He will provide love, comfort, and courage so we can live an abundant life in Him and through Him. We live in a fallen world where we are bound to get hurt. But God will never leave us nor forsake us. One of the ways He fulfills this promise is by providing others to walk along side us as we navigate through the blessings and adversity that will come our way. May we all find ways to help others remain thankful in all things.Thanks for finding this blog. If you haven’t already, Please subscribe so that you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. You can reach me by email at [email protected]

What is the real meaning of Joy!

The third candle lit on the Advent wreath recognizes the virtue Joy. Charles Stanley says “True Joy is found when our hearts are awakened and therefore our lives transformed by the riches of God’s love. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. God longs to make you a joyful person from the inside out. He does not want our joy based on circumstances or the fleeting whims of the world. He desires us to wait on Him to fill us up so we can go out and spread that Joy. Allowing yourself to be filled with His Holy Spirit allows your mindset to overflow with satisfaction and hope. That spill over can’t help but positively impact those paths we cross.Unfortunately, many are asking the question, why don’t I have that Joy or where is the Joy in my life? Paul in His letter to the Romans answers those questions. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Why is this the answer? Because we need to look to God for the four virtues of Advent and not what the temporal things the world offers. Many people make the mistake of thinking Joy means being happy. Instead, experiencing Joy means being content and at peace no matter what the experience. Pastor E.V. Hill preached a message on this saying, “We think of ourselves all packed up and ready for God to move us to a happier place. Instead, when God’s moving truck pulls up, we realize He is is not moving us out, He is moving in and has lots to unpack.” For our Joy to be made full, we need to get rid of our worries and anxieties so the Lord can bring in Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace into our lives. The more we can remember Jesus is our greatest Joy so we get rid of stuff that is keeping God from entering in to our lives, the more He can be present and teach us His ways.
He wants and desires for us to bloom where we are planted bringing beauty to those who benefit from seeing your Joyful countenance.
So on this third Sunday of Advent as you wait on the Lord, ask yourself what is holding you back? What circumstances, fears,anxieties,doubts,etc are keeping you from allowing God to move into your life? Christmas reminds us that finding Joy is possible because :
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (one of 55 Old Testament prophesies fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection )May this 3rd Sunday of Advent fill you with Joy. Please subscribe to this blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at [email protected]  

God promises Peace on Earth but what about for you?

A friend asked me the other day how he could pray for me over the Christmas holiday. I asked for a peaceful mindset. So many things are swirling around creating uncertainty. I desire the peace that comes from trusting Him for the outcomes I can’t control. Timely that the 4th Sunday in Advent represents peace :). It also means the wait for Christmas is almost over. Over the last three Sundays, we have been reminded to have HOPE feel LOVED share JOY You can read my thoughts on these by looking back at most recent blog posts. As shared above, the 4th candle represents the PEACE God wishes for us as well as expressing Good Will toward all mankind. Whether you are a child waiting for Santa Claus or someone who truly desires Advent to be a time of spiritual renewal, busyness gets in the way. The need to buy presents, attend holiday functions, prepare for house guests and closing out your business for the year all make it difficult to intentionally stop and check in on yourself. Asking, are you ready to experience what Advent and the birth of a Savior truly means? Acknowledging that you and me need that peace these days. The peace that Paul writes about in Philippians is beyond our human understanding and is only found through faith. .

Take a moment from reading this blog close your eyes and focus on where your mind takes you. For many of us we will feel anxiety and if so, ask yourself, what is making you anxious and unable to find peace.” You see, anxiety is defined as “a common feeling linked with worried thoughts and can be associated with physical changes like increased heart rate. When we allow ourselves to be consumed by the thoughts that bring us stress, we aren’t much good to anyone else, including God. During this Advent week of Peace, God wants you to take the time to lean on Him in prayer. Even In the midst of what is stressing you out, find things for which to be thankful. Remove yourself from the busyness of the season and go to God saying you need his help. Lay your burdens down trusting Him when He says, “People of God, Come to Me and lay down the burdens you have carried for too long in your secret place.” I promise to all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Here you will find the genuine blessing ( click the link below) of PEACE the angels promised to the shepherds in the field and to all of us on that 1st Silent Night.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Are you waiting and properly preparing for Christmas?

Today we light the Advent wreath’s 2nd of 4 candles as we wait on the coming of Jesus. Different denominations celebrate this season differently but there is one common principle shared. We are to spend this four week period waiting so that we might be renewed. This past summer I used my morning coffee to share how to be our best. It was about the need for emptying, cleaning, and refilling so that we could taste the newness of each day. I then wrote a few weeks later on how watching my grandchildren and my Bout with Guillain Barre taught me lessons on how to wait. The original season of Advent was arguably the most important season of waiting in all of history. We celebrate it over four weeks but it lasted much longer for those who waited for their Savior. Isaiah was written during the Babylonian period, about 580 to 520. So the supposed prophecy regarding Jesus was about 500 to 600 years before He was born. In fact, The Old Testament, written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection. The One who would free them from their master and establish a new kingdom. Little did they know what they were waiting for and in reality, many ended up very disappointed.

In this season of Advent for what are you waiting? Depending on what it is, you too could end up disappointed and experiencing the pain of unmet expectations. The gift you didn’t get. The relationship that continues to be side ways. You or your loved ones recovering from health issues. The job or promotion that didn’t occur. The discontentment you feel from not feeling like your life matters or even with achievement leaves you with the sense that there has to be more. Like the Jewish people you could be waiting on something that is not what God intended. If that is the case, you will end up disappointed and discouraged. The second candle represents love. God created you, loves you, and because of that baby being born in a manger, you can establish a relationship with Him that will not let you down. Your Joy will be made full and instead of the world beating you down you can experience the abundant life God promises.

As we mark the Season of Advent, let’s take the time to wait on the Lord and examine our hearts. Like our cup of coffee, make it a time where stop, allow ourselves to be cleansed filled again so that we might be renewed. Enjoy the fun of preparing and decorating for Christmas but let us also not forget that we are to “prepare the the way of the Lord” , the Son of God, who became man to save the world and give each of us life now and for evermore. Hallelujah for He is the King of Kings! Enjoy this fun flash mob rendition.

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I know it is easy, but, don’t wish away a season.

I am not sure where or who taught Dottie and me to not wish away a current time in our lives. It could have been when our children were little and as her Mom shared with us “the hours of the day now crawl, but the years will fly by”. Or was it when we moved from the “physically tiring” stage of life into the “emotionally exhausting” time of having teenagers? ? We have all had them haven’t we? Think about time or times where you couldn’t help but say, “once we get through this or that trial or ideal, things will be much better?” If you are like me, several come immediately to mind; including my bout with Guillain Barre and now 9 months of Covid19. So, As we enter into the last couple weeks of Advent, remember the waiting is to be intentional. A time to reflect and prepare ourselves for what God wants to do with us through His son Jesus.

Christmas reminds us we have a loving Father and a wonderful counselor who wants the very best for us. It doesn’t start tomorrow or in the future, it starts right now. We have a choice, every day, to give him thanks. And with a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He teaches us in those moments to prepare us for what lies ahead. He changes our hearts so that we might become better. This 3rd Sunday of #Advent2020,
take time to stop, wait patiently, and expectantly to celebrate the tiny baby who God allowed to change the world. May we prepare our hearts so that we receive Him in love and then go out to serve with hearts full of compassion. This is a time to reflect on the fact that the Mighty God and Prince of Peace has that same compassion for us.
How do we not miss out on what God wants for us right now? Try not waiting 364 days each year for Christmas or Thanksgiving to say thanks and give gifts. Instead, have a thankful heart and the Christmas spirit every day so that you have no regret on how you spent a season no matter what came your way. After all as Eleanor Roosevelt so aptly put it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift..That is why it is called the Present.”

During this Advent Season, as you wait, work on Making your Present Perfect by keeping God in every moment of your day.

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Advent….Another season of waiting

2019 was a year of waiting to recover from Guillain Barre Syndrome ( Little did I know that 2020 would bring a new kind of waiting; the all clear from Covid19. Although I am physically well and have accomplished my 180 goal stated in this link, the doctors have me self-isolating as much as possible. They say that is the best course of action given my compromised immune system because Covid19 can result in Guillain Barre as well. Singer Christopher Cross had that exact thing happen back in March. Along with all of you, we wait for a vaccine that will hopefully allow us to return to our normal lives again sometime in 2021.

Waiting for recovery in 2019 and Covid19 to be brought under control in 2020 has made the season of Advent more poignant for me. Why? Because it is also about waiting and waiting is never easy. I guess that is why they say “patience is a virtue.” ? God’s chosen people had been waiting for a Messiah for a lot longer than a couple of years. God’s son, Jesus, had been prophesied hundreds of years before in Isaiah 7:14. Here is a link to 44 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament.

One such prophesy shares about the servant, the messiah for whom they were waiting.

Isaiah 42 goes on to say what the people could expect upon His arrival.
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

Ponder this question on this 2nd Sunday of Advent. For what or for whom are you waiting? Is it something temporal in nature like improved health or the end of Covid19? There is no doubt I have found both are worth waiting for with expectant anticipation. Yet this Christmas season, try waiting on God to show you how He wants to renew your life. There you will find the everlasting Hope that was promised in Isaiah. The hope that comes from God who loved us enough to send His Incarnate Son to live amongst us. Wait on Him friends and watch how he will bring justice to this broken and bruised world that feels like at any moment could be snuffed out like a smoldering wick. Joy to the world, The Lord has come. May we each receive Him personally as our King. When we do we can remain Thankful in All Things.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on what it means to wait during The Advent season. I can be reached by email at [email protected] Please subscribe to the blog if you want to get email notifications when new content is posted.

There are gifts and then there are Gifts

A while ago, I paraphrased Isaiah 43:1,2 as they were balm to my soul as I recovered from Guillain Barre. “But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Michael.  he who formed you and created you to be His. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the adversity that challenges you,  I will be with you; and when you pass through weakness and discouragement, You will not be overcome. As you struggle with infirmities, you will not be devastated. I will protect you and lift you up.” 

This verse came to mind again this week as we celebrated Christmas. I have indeed passed through a time of real adversity and know without a doubt that God was with me in the midst of the challenge which time and time kept me from discouragement. What does this have to do with Christmas? It is certainly not just the stockings hung from the mantle with care.

Many know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. I think this is why Advent this year brought new meaning for me. You see, I had my own season of waiting in anticipation that I would one day move again. Jesus came saying He would become like light in the darkness. I felt His presence as well while I went through the dark time of waiting on being able to move again much less walking out of rehab two months ahead of schedule on April 25th, 2019.

So this Advent season, I waited with expectation because I was filled with joy and gratitude that like Jesus being born on Christmas, my Lord showed up in my life as He did for all of us more than 2000 years ago. Therefore, it was not about the gifts that were opened but the love that each gift represented for me. You see, I am grateful for the gift of slowly but surely getting better. The good news is my PT says she will get me back to 100%. The bad news is I will still be 67 and not 40 🙂 Therefore, the gift I am trying to give to my wife, kids, and grandkids is me being the best me I can be spiritually and physically. That way, I hope to be a person of encouragement to those around me for as long as the Lord allows. Being a light for those who are facing adversities in their own lives. My verse for 2020 will be 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ” I hope in some way I this blog post has done that for some of you so like Jesus, we can all carry the light into this world.

Being forced to learn how to “Be Still and know that He is God”

Give yourself a wonderful present this Holiday. Stop for a Holy pause. 

This Christmas, Make a decision to shut yourself down for a bit. Removing yourself from the endless noise and commotion to quietly engage your heart with His. Experience His stillness, His peace for our panic, and His joy vs our irritability. I read and have paraphrased these words this morning from an Our Daily Prayer devotional. If we are honest with ourselves, taking a holy pause is not easy. Just stopping to relax or as some say “take a chill pill” takes work. Stopping and just breathing deep…takes practice. “Be still and know that I am God” is a commandment for all od us. Why? Because slowing down takes work. Stopping and just breathing deep…takes practice. I was forced to learn this the hard way when fighting Guillain Barre Syndrome. I had no choice but to be still. I pretty much couldn’t move for 15 days and then only bit by bit for another month. Although much better, I still have to rest midday and call it a day much earlier in the evening than before GBS. In this stillness, I found God in a way I had never experienced Him before. I was forced to learn what it felt like to let go of everything. Thankfully, I found the peace that Phillippians 4 talks about. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I also confirmed my faith and gave me hope in things not seen as written in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” I do not want to go back there. It was an incredibly difficult time. But, now that my life is returning to a somewhat normal routine, I try and conjure back the feeling of not being able to do anything but Be Still. Maybe this is why the Advent Season seems more meaningful than others. Because I was forced to stop and marvel at the wonders of His love.

My prayer is that you will take time over this holiday to just Abide in Him. Stop worrying about what you accomplish but instead, allow yourself to just let go and trust the God who loves you. Let His goodness flow over you so that you can be the one He has created you to be. May it be your prayer that by stopping to count your many blessings you will be able to revel in the wonders of His love. O Come O Come Emmanuel